||Fastest Qualifier Kid Can Dash Cruises in the $98,300 Sam Houston Maiden Classic at Sam Houston Race Parkk
(Houston, Texas - Saturday, April 9, 2016) -
The ten fastest qualifiers from 11 trials on Friday, March 26 returned to action tonight at Sam Houston Race Park in the $98,300 Sam Houston Maiden Classic.
It was a repeat standout performance by fastest qualifier Kid Can Dash, a three-year-old son of Down N Dash, owned and bred by Pete Scarmardo. With a confident ride from Francisco Calderon, Kid Can Dash broke alertly and surged to the wire of the 350 yard final in :17.713. Pete Scarmardo bred and owns the gelding, who came into the trials off two runner-up finishes at Lone Star Park and Evangeline Downs. Francisco Calderon was the winning rider and made it look very easy this evening.
"He just leaves up to his name," said Calderon. "He was with them out of the gate, but halfway down the track, I just put away my stick and let him cruise."
His trainer, Leon Bard, was pleased with his continued maturity of this three-year-old.
"He ran so well in the trials and came out of that race fine," said Bard. "We knew if he got away, he would win. He really showed up tonight. I told Pete before the race that it was our turn."
Scarmardo has been a valued supporter of Texas breeding and racing and was on hand to accept the winner's trophy.
"Texas is home, and that's where I want to run my horses," said Scarmardo. "This horse is all business; he left good, and that's what you want a racehorse to do."
Famous Strawberry battled from the rail under rider Luis Vivanco for second, 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner. Dakota Slew closed for third with David Alvarez aboard, and Sing a Hot Tune completed the superfecta.
Kid Can Dash returned $4.20 as the betting favorite. He earned $39,320 for his first stakes victory and now has a record of two wins, three seconds and one third-place finish from eight career starts.
Bard projects that Kid Can Dash will make his next start at Retama Park, either in the Retama Park Derby or the Sires' Cup Derby.
Fire on the Fly Prevails in the $20,700 Zoetis Texas Distance Challenge
Fire on the Fly proved why he is one of the most accomplished distance horses in the country with an impressive score tonight in the $20,700 Zoetis Texas Distance Challenge.
The Bullard Farms homebred made his 28th career start and has now won nine distance races for his trainer, Tommy Bullard. He tabbed Louisiana-based jockey Donell Blake to ride the six-year-old son of Jet Cartel. Blake rode the handsome gray in both victories earlier this year at Louisiana Downs, and tonight broke from the enviable rail post position. He dueled with Stolis Pro, bred and owned by Jerry Windham, down the lane, but drew off to the victory in a final time of :45.703.
"Like Ive said before, he's a natural 870-yard horse and has no trainer," quipped Bullard. "He has a great jockey and a lot of talent. We're just lucky to get such a good one. Good horses make bad trainers look really good! I have lots of good people helping me."
Blake had not ridden at Houston for years, but jumped at the chance to ride Fire on the Fly in another stakes.
"I didn’t want to send him too early," said Blake. "I finally got my shot, and he battled on. I am blessed to ride this horse."
The inside two horses outclassed the rest of the field, with Bard training the runner-up for Windham.
"My horse was getting out, and made it tough on me," said jockey Francisco Calderon of Stolis Pro.
Fire on the Fly is a two-time winner of the 870-yard $25,000 Governors' Cup Marathon and might return for that stakes later this meet. He will represent Texas in the $125,000 Zoetis Distance Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos on October 29.
"Donell and I have always wanted to go to California," added Bullard with a smile!
Fire on the Fly ($3.80) was sent off as the heavy wagering favorite in the field of six, due to the scratches of Snowbound Cowboy and Jack Ketel. Bling Bling Bok, Speed Bok, Ec Cartel and Dashers Midnight completed the order of finish.